Ready to start the nonprofit of your dreams? You might have a great idea that you're passionate about, but there are quite a few steps to creating and maintaining a nonprofit. Use the following five steps to help you start your nonprofit and help it flourish.
1. Choose your type
There are 27 different types of nonprofits you could form, each with its own tax requirements. 501(c)(3) nonprofits are the most common types. As a 501(c)(3), you'll file for tax-exempt status with the federal government. Additionally, to run your nonprofit compliantly, you need to apply for licenses and permits, create bylaws, and appoint directors. What licenses and permits you need depend on your location and your activity, so check your state's regulations. For example, you might need a zoning license to host your nonprofit in town. Bylaws are essentially your policies and standards of operations, and your board of directors will act as a governing body to uphold those rules and make major decisions moving forward.
2. Get Donations
Chances are you'll get most of your money through donations. Nonprofits get most of their donations from individuals rather than businesses or foundations, so focus on individuals. This is where having a website comes in handy. Including an easy-to-use donate button on your site can make it easy for individuals to donate as they see fit. Allow them the option to make one-time donations, automatically recurring donations, or planned donations so that you're not missing out on any income.
3. Search for Grants
Although most of your money will be through donations, grants can also help. Grants usually come from private foundations. To make your case, you'll need to write a grant proposal that makes your nonprofit stand out from the rest. In it, include your nonprofit's organization, goals, marketing strategies, and financial needs. Whatever financing method you choose, upgrading your nonprofit's accounting software to one where you can manage cash flow is a great idea. Choose software that can track your donations, show your cash flow, house invoices, and generate customizable reports. With all the different streams of revenue you'll be dealing with, the software should also make it easy to sort by person, fund, or program.
4. Invest in Marketing
Your ability to create an impact relies on knowing the right people and expanding your audience. Combine in-person and online strategies by attending live networking events and promoting your cause via social media. Make sure you stand out, too. You want to be distinct, so design a logo that catches people's attention. There are tools that make it easy to create logos from databases chock full of different colors, fonts, and templates, so use an online logo maker and download your creation!
5. Get Volunteers
Volunteers are essential for the success of any nonprofit. There are dozens of possible positions that need to be filled. From customer service and event management to marketing and handling daily tasks, volunteers can help keep the ship afloat. Research estimates that every volunteer hour is worth over $28, which can save your nonprofit millions in labor each year. Plus, volunteers are far more likely to donate than non-volunteers, making it all the more necessary to harness this workforce.
Nonprofits are doing important work around the globe. No matter what your passion is, securing regular funding, marketing your nonprofit, and using volunteers will help your nonprofit grow.
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